What effect does exercise have on the nervous system? Quizlet decoded!

If you’ve ever felt that post-workout buzz, you would have experienced the effects of exercise on the nervous system firsthand. Exercise has a wide range of benefits for our body and mind, and one of the most significant is the effect it has on our nervous system.

In this article, we will explore the different ways that exercise affects our nervous system and how you can benefit from it.

What is the Nervous System?

The nervous system is a complex network of cells and fibers that transmit nerve impulses between different parts of the body. It consists of two main parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

The Central Nervous System (CNS)

The central nervous system includes the brain and the spinal cord. It is responsible for integrating and coordinating all the processes that occur within the body. It receives and processes sensory information from the peripheral nervous system and sends out motor commands to muscles and glands throughout the body.

The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

The peripheral nervous system consists of all the nerves that lie outside the brain and the spinal cord. It includes the autonomic nervous system and the somatic nervous system.

The Effect of Exercise on the Nervous System

Exercise Increases Brain Function

Studies have shown that exercise can improve brain function through a process called neurogenesis, which is the growth of new neurons in the brain. Exercise stimulates the production of a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is critical for the growth and survival of neurons. BDNF levels increase during exercise, resulting in new neuron growth and improved brain function.

Exercise Reduces Stress

Exercise has long been known to reduce stress levels in the body. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers that promote feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Additionally, exercise helps to lower cortisol levels in the body – cortisol is a stress hormone that can cause inflammation and contribute to a range of physical and mental health problems.

Exercise Improves Sleep Quality and Quantity

Regular exercise can help to improve sleep quality and quantity. This is because exercise increases body temperature, which then drops after a few hours, triggering the onset of sleep. Additionally, regular exercise helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, which can contribute to a more restful sleep.

Exercise Reduces the Risk of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. This is because exercise increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which plays a role in maintaining the health of neurons in the brain.

Exercise Improves Motor Function

Exercise improves motor function by strengthening the connections between neurons in the brain and improving the communication between the brain and the muscles. Exercise promotes the growth of new neurons and the formation of new synapses, which are the connections between neurons. This results in improved coordination, balance, and motor function.

How Much Exercise is Needed to See Results?

For optimal nervous system benefits, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. You can achieve this by engaging in activities such as brisk walking, running, swimming or cycling.

Conclusion

Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system. Exercise promotes the growth of new neurons in the brain, reduces stress levels, improves sleep quality, reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and improves motor function.

Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned athlete, incorporating regular exercise into your routine can help you achieve a healthier nervous system and enjoy numerous benefits for your body and mind.

FAQs

  • How does exercise affect the nervous system?

    Exercise promotes the growth of new neurons in the brain, reduces stress levels, improves sleep quality, reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and improves motor function.

  • How much exercise is needed to see results?

    For optimal nervous system benefits, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.

  • What is neurogenesis?

    Neurogenesis is the growth of new neurons in the brain. Exercise stimulates the production of a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is critical for the growth and survival of neurons.

References

  • Neeper, S. A., Gómez-Pinilla, F., Choi, J., & Cotman, C. W. (1996). Exercise and brain neurotrophins. Nature, 382(6590), 300-300.
  • Rothwell, N. J. (2013). Endogenous brain protective mechanisms. The Lancet Neurology, 12(9), 829-830.
  • Vaynman, S., & Gomez-Pinilla, F. (2006). Revenge of the “sit”: how lifestyle impacts neuronal and cognitive health through molecular systems that interface energy metabolism with neuronal plasticity. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 84(4), 699-715.
  • Cotman, C. W., Berchtold, N. C., & Christie, L. A. (2007). Exercise builds brain health: key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation. Trends in neurosciences, 30(9), 464-472.
  • Greenspan, J. D., Craft, R. M., LeResche, L., Arendt‐Nielsen, L., Berkley, K. J., Fillingim, R. B., … & Staud, R. (2007). Studying sex and gender differences in pain and analgesia: a consensus report. Pain, 132(Supplement 1), S26-S45.

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